Experts including three Nobel laureates and Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist, are calling on the new Government to make teaching of the theory a compulsory part of the curriculum.I am not sure I agree. I went to a secular school and, as I remarked over at Steve Martin's blog, did not encounter a young earth creationist until I came to the United States. Nonetheless, I did not have organized teaching on evolution until I reached high school biology and yet had no trouble incorporting it into what I had been taught about biology and botany up until that point. You can teach the relatedness of plants and animals and the structure of the world without necessarily promoting evolution as the proximate cause in primary school.
They say it is necessary because of the increasing number of schools that do not have to follow the curriculum, and because of the “threat” posed by the religious concept of creationism.
It comes after two proposals to ensure pupils are taught Darwin’s theory of natural selection were dropped, one by Labour and the other by the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition.
The 26 signatories to the letter sent to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, say they are “deeply concerned that evolution and science form a core part of any revised primary curriculum”.
They wrote: “Evolution is the most important idea underlying biological science. It is a key concept that children should be introduced to at an early stage.
The other reason I am not sure I agree is that I am especially leery of any curriculum that has Dawkins' stamp on it, simply because he is so anti-religious. Evolution education has to be done in such a way that, unlike what goes on in Christian schools and home school material, there is not a false dichotomy set up, urging students to choose either belief in God or evolution. That would be unconscionable.
On the other hand, I certainly agree that students should not be taught young earth creationism. That is teaching them "Christian folk science" that is demonstrably false. It is also setting them up for a devastating conflict when they do reach university in which their faith will be severely tested.
This is a battleground that is now being fought all over the world, with mixed results. No telling how it will turn out.
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